Page 1

Mena high band competes, see p.4.

Daniels signs for ATU, see p. 6.

Turn to p. 8 for the book review.

Bear Facts




Volume 2 Number 4

January/February 2012

1200 Dallas Ave, Mena, Arkansas 71953

MHS students participate in Literacy Lights by Taylor Hale

Several students and guests had the opportunity to participate in a Skype session with author Kimberly Joy Peters at Mena High School on Jan. 19, 2012. At the Literacy Lights event, students also presented pieces of literature they had prepared. All guests and students were welcome to arrive at 5:00 p.m, when refreshments provided by Wal-Mart and Mena High School would be served in the cafeteria. Later, at 5:30 p.m, everyone gathered in classroom 205 to participate in a scheduled 30 minute Skype session. For anyone who is not aware of Skype, it is a free online video chat program used worldwide. Prior to the Literacy Lights event, students in Judy Burnett’s, Jessica Munger’s, and Chad Willms’s English classes prepared questions for Peters to answer. Because Peters is not only an author but a teacher as well, she did not charge for the Skype call, however,

she did ask the members present to make a donation to the Fresh Start Pregnancy Center to help young women in need. Burnett commented on the session explaining that it was a great experience for students to see the work that is put into writing a book and to also discover the author’s creativity. After the Skype session, 37 students and 44 guests met in the Mena High Performing Arts Center to enjoy presentations by the students. The presentations contained pieces of literature either originally written or personal favorites from works they had read. They also explained to the audience why the piece was important and stood out to them. After the night’s activities ended, guests filled out evaluations on the overall outcome, author Skype session, and student presentations. Burnett was very pleased with the event saying, “It was successful and well received, and I’m glad to see students have a chance to share their accomplishments. The English department plans to hold more events like this in the future.”

TUDENTS AND GUESTS Skype with author Kimberly Joy Peters at the Literacy S Lights event. (photo by Lisa Schuller)

Mena students give back to society by Cathy Haynes

SENIOR MORGAN FLETCHER anticipates donating blood. (photo by Kim Erickson)

Several Mena High School students participated in the blood drive on Jan. 11, 2012, and most felt like they were accomplishing something really great. Students 16 years and older had a specific reason they were donating blood, including having a family member or friend with a form of illness, relating to a personal experience, or getting out of class and receiving a free item and snacks. Senior Morgan Fletcher said, “I donate blood for the free day.” The students were so proud to give back. They entered with a positive attitude and left knowing they were helping someone. Even though most were not excited about the pain that would come from giving blood, they still stayed strong and accomplished

it. Not only did our students donate blood, but some teachers decided to donate also. “I give blood because I have a rare blood type and try to give blood as often as possible,” said teacher Sheila Johnson. One of the staff members from the blood drive revealed that the goal was not met because 15 students had dropped, and they needed more students to donate. Most students were terrified of needles and were scared to give blood because they didn’t think they could handle the pain. Staff members tried to help calm the students and make the experience a little better by talking to the students while they were giving blood to take their minds off of it. As a reward for donating blood, students received drinks and treats and a special gift. “It’s a good thing to do even though it’s freaky,” said Ashlyn Godfrey.

Page 2

The Bear Facts - Editorials

January/February 2012

When does weight loss go too far? One of the most common New Year’s resolutions is to lose weight, but has anyone ever taken a second to wonder why? Amongst celebrities, peers, and even ourselves, there is always the pressure to be thin, but no one seems to notice that sometimes it gets taken too far. Weight loss is one of the main struggles of our time; it’s everywhere. When we look at our personal icons on television, websites, and in magazines, we automatically feel a pressure or a desire to look like them. Weight loss companies use celebrities as spokespeople because they are who we, as consumers, admire. A look at entertainment news today reveals celebrities and patients in therapy, rehab and clinics at all ages of life and in all stages of careers; obviously their desire to look a certain way can also cross the line between healthy and dangerous. So, take out the image of a super tall, thin, and very unreal body; now what is our motivation to lose weight? Is it to be healthy and feel good, or to be skinny and show bones? Using a “ten day fat flush” diet is NOT healthy; drinking lemon water with chili powder is NOT healthy; skipping out on meals is NOT healthy. Eating good food for the right reasons, exercising, and respecting our bodies is what leads to a healthy lifestyle. There is nothing wrong with wanting to look and feel good, but we should not let others tell us what our bodies should look like. We all struggle with our personal images from time to time, but having confidence is a key element to accepting ourselves. If everyone who wanted to look like someone else got his way, there would be a lot less variety in our world. We are individuals; we should love our bodies and be comfortable in our own skin.


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The Bear Facts, a publication of Mena High School, is published monthly October through May by MHS journalism students and is printed by the Mena Star. The Bear Facts is a member of the Arkansas Scholastic Press Association, the American Scholastic Press Association, and the Southern Interscholastic Press Association. Editorials and letters to the editor reflect the views of the authors and do not necessarily reflect those of the staff or school. All letters must be signed, and all published letters will include the author’s name. Advertising rates are $10 per column inch. For advertising or subscription information, address all correspondence to Bear Facts, Mena High School, 1200 Dallas Ave, Mena, Arkansas 71953.

Residents yet to panic about snow by Ayla Powell

Ah, snow. The wonderful white stuff that falls from the sky, soft and graceful, as dainty as a baby’s eyelash. Snow’s a big deal in Mena, as many of you know. And if you don’t know, I’ll paint a nice little picture. Let’s say that the weatherman says we’ll be getting a few inches. The kids cheer because, this being Mena Arkansas, school will most likely be closed the next day. Mom decides this calls for a celebration! She drives to Walmart, kids in tow, picks up some Swiss Miss, and then goes to get some bread for cinnamon toast in the morning. But wait… where’s the bread? As usual, other families have panicked, buying all the bread, milk, and eggs, leaving everyone else out to dry. People panic and buy snow tires, take off time from work, and hold on to their loved ones until that last bit of ice under the trees outside melts. It happens every year, doesn’t it? Everyone freaks out about the snow. One flake could fall from the sky, and everyone would be sent home for the day…not that I mind, of course, but I think it’s annoying when everyone says, and I quote, “ZOMG guys, it’s snowing!!!!!” When my father was a kid, he lived in Wisconsin, and they would get eight inches of snow or so, and they’d still have to go to school. “It’s kind of funny, but kind of sad,” he says of the way people act towards snow around here. Children love it. Adults wait for another ice storm. You remember that, right? No? Well they sure do. Remember that goldfish you used to have? That’s when you lost it, and they’ve never forgotten good old Goldie. All joking aside for now, the snow in Mena is usually thin, not fit for snowmen, not fit for snowball fights, and it tastes like dirt. But look out on a freshly snowed field and tell me it’s not pretty. It’s a blank page, waiting to be written on with tractors and dirty boots. It hasn’t fallen yet this year, but when it does, it will cause a whirlwind of activity.

January/February 2012

The Bear Facts - Feature

Page 3

Dr. Diann Gathright

A woman of power embarks on her undying journey by Kimmi Hanners

Children usually dream of a heroic occupation as they grow up like becoming a firefighter or even a princess. One individual, however, discovered her path early on and continues to make that dream become reality in her life today. Dr. Diann Gathright, Superintendent of Mena Public Schools, has had a love for education all her life. Being born in Magnolia, AR and moving to Stamps, AR at the beginning of third grade due to her father’s work, Gathright slowly began to uncover her true passion. Gathright said, “It was actually in elementary school when I realized what I wanted to do in life. In high school, I helped other kids and my friends with homework. We always had study groups, and I worked really hard. For me, I had good grades; I was the salutatorian of my class.” Being the elder of two siblings, Gathright became a role model as she took a huge step in her life: going to college. Gathright started out by attending Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia, AR, where she earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Education. Teaching there for three years, she was able to experience the blessing of teaching kindergarten, first, and second grades. Her husband, being a principal for the Waldo School District, which wasn’t far from there, helped make the decision that would fuel the next huge step in both their lives. Gathright and her husband came to Mena in 1978 because they liked the area and closeness of family. Yet, Gathright had another goal in mind. She was determined to go even farther with her love for education, and in fact, finished her Masters’ Degree in Education at the University of Central Arkansas in Conway in 1980. In Conway, Gathright also served as a specialist in her field just ten years later and received her well-acclaimed doctorate degree in 1997. Not only has Gathright received many highly praised degrees and attended two universities in the natural state, but she has done so much more. Gathright has taught everything from kindergarten to fifth grade, including teaching first, fourth and fifth grade reading classes in Mena for nine years. She served as the assistant director of Dequeen/Mena Educational Cooperative for nine years. After serving as assistant director, she did, however, choose to leave to go to the Arkansas School Board Association and then, she taught some more. Gathright has had the wonderful opportunity to teach at Arkansas Tech University for one year, at Henderson State University, and Mena Public Schools. Serving as a college professor, vice-president at a college, consultant, and so many more occupations yet to be achieved, Gathright holds the title of a woman of power who embarks on her undying journey. Finally deciding just four years ago what her next goal would be, she chose to apply for the position of Superintendent of Mena Public Schools, her current occupation. Starting in 2008 and resigning June 30, 2012, Gathright said, “In all my years of being the superintendent, one of the most trying times was the tornado recovery and insuring all the students had a quality education. The most exciting times have been due to the construction. I’ve been able to write grants for Rich Mountain Community College, the Old Armory, and Mena High School. Though, the most fun time has been working with the students, parents, and the community, and getting to know their personalities. I like seeing their growth and change

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over time. Education is important to the future of our community, our state, and ultimately, our nation.” Resigning due to personal financial reasons and the want for a more flexible schedule, Gathright looks forward to quite a few hobbies that she didn’t have time to enjoy before. Gathright enjoys quilting, water-skiing, sailing, gardening, and landscaping. Now that Gathright is going to draw full retirement a year early due to Arkansas’s system, she now has the freedom to manage her own schedule and looks forward to another love, traveling. Gathright revealed that she’s been to forty countries, a few being China, France, and Russia. She also plans to visit Ireland, New Zealand, Australia, and Santa Fe, New Mexico. After returning, she doesn’t plan to just give up her passion either. Gathright said, “I’ll probably do consulting and teacher training. In the next year, Arkansas has to train thirty seven thousand teachers, and we have to train principals and superintendents to do evaluations. I’ll be in charge of my own schedule.” Giving hope to many, Gathright has had an impact in several lives as a woman of power. When asked to give a few words of encouragement, she said, “Write your goals, and keep yourself focused on your goals.” Living as a true witness to this quote, Gathright wears a heart pin adorned with pearls and rubies, and it is what she knows as her goal pin. Wearing it every day, she signifies each pearl as a goal of hers, the rubies as her loved ones, and the entire pin as a symbol of her faith and forever, her hope.

DR. DIANN GATHRIGHT, Supt. of Mena Public Schools, shares her story and future plans. (photo by Emily O’Rear)

Happy & Safe New Year Mena High School Andy Riner, Prosecuting Attorney 18 W Judicial District Paid for by Andy Riner


nt to

Page 4

The Bear Facts - News

January/February 2012

Mena Band competes in All-Region and All-State by Emily O’Rear

Students with the Mena High School Band travelled to Clarksville High School for the All-Region Competition on Jan. 7, 2011. Allison Austin, Casey Bass, Jordan Butterfield, Addie Bush, Luke Callahan, Heidi Faught, Jeremiah Foster, Jordan Hooper, Race Hobson, Alyssa Odom, Emily O’Rear, Ayla Powell, Ivy Powell, Connor Purvis, Nathan Smallwood, Jake Talamantez, Kaylee VanEmmerik, Veronica Vanbuskirk, Claire Williamson, and Justin Wiseman, along with band directors Charles Morgan and James Maestri spent the day among other band students and directors in the hopes of being selected for the AllRegion Band. “Region was very different this year. Especially since we were just moved to a different region,” said Ayla Powell. After the initial celebration died down, the All-

State qualifiers got back to work on their pieces of music for All-State tryouts. On Feb. 3, Austin, Hobson, Purvis, Smallwood, and Talamantez traveled to Henderson State University in Arkadelphia with Morgan, along with the top 20 players from every section in every All-Region band across the state of Arkansas. When they returned home, they came with three of five qualifiers in the band or alternates. Austin, Faught, Hobson, Purvis, Smallwood, Talamantez, and Vanbuskirk were chosen to play in the All Region Band, and Austin, Hobson, Purvis, Smallwood, and Talamantez also qualified to try out for All State band. Austin, Hobson, and Smallwood each earned a spot with the best players in Arkansas. “I fell short of my goal this year, but I am proud to be considered an All-Stater nonetheless,” said Smallwood. “I surpassed my expectations and am proud of my achievements” said Hobson.

Eight students chosen for Four States Band by Emily O’Rear and Ayla Powell

Four States Bandmaster’s Association, a non-profit organization that promotes instrumental music in our schools, has members throughout Arkansas, Louisiana, Valentine’s Day Oklahoma and Texas. The organization was started in 1963 and has grown over the past years to host a convention that consists of 280 high school bandsmen and 150 band directors. There are 3 honor bands: the Symphonic, Concert and Jazz Band. When students have successfully tried out, they are placed in the appropriate band.

Placing in the Symphonic Band are Heidi Faught on clarinet and Nathan Smallwood on tuba. In the Concert Band, Dani Lindsey made it on oboe, Alyssa Odom on flute, Luke Callahan on baritone saxophone, and Justin Wiseman on trombone. On tenor, Allison Austin made jazz band, and Jake Talamantez on alto. “I’m very proud of these students for this great accomplishment. Most schools our size only have one or two students make these elite groups, and we had 8. That truly speaks for the quality of students we have at Mena,” said Charles Morgan, band director at Mena High School.

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HISTORY TEACHER JULIE Gordon was awarded the Orientation to Teaching class’s Teacher of the Month award after student Ethan Heath submitted an essay in her honor. (photo by Emily O’Rear)

Discover the truth about Valentine’s Day by Viet Nguyen

When thinking of Valentine’s Day, hearts, chocolates, flowers, kisses, and expressions of love are all brought to mind, yet before joining in the fun, wouldn’t it be wise to know where this tradition came from? Valentine’s Day began when the early Roman Catholic Church tried to Christianize an ancient pagan Roman holiday called Lupercalia. That celebration was a licentious festival honoring Lupercus, the hero-hunter of wolves. This festival was so immensely popular among the Roman people that church leaders included it in their calendar hoping to retain their new parishioners and turn them from risque’ behavior to morality by linking it to a saint. The saint they chose for this midFebruary Roman festival was St. Valentine. One source on wikipedia explains, “St. Valentine is believed to have been a Roman priest who was martyred on this day, Feb. 14 around A.D. 270.” How he became the patron saint of lovers remains a mystery, but one theory is that the Church used the day of St. Valentine’s martyrdom in an attempt to Christianize the old Roman Lupercalia, a pagan festival held around the middle of February.

“Part of the ancient ceremony entailed putting girls’ names in a box and letting the boys draw them out. Couples would thus be paired off until the following year. The Church substituted saints’ names for girls’ names, in the hope that the participant would model his life after the saint whose name he drew.” Although all historical sources contain some of the same notions about how Valentine’s Day developed, each one highlights another facet of the story. Another states, “Some people have tried to connect the historical Saint Valentine with the later practices of Valentine’s Day by saying that the saint married couples despite the emperor’s prohibition, or that he sent a note signed ‘from your Valentine’ to the daughter of his jailer.” The early Christian Saint Valentine probably had nothing to do with the traditions later celebrated on his feast day; it is simply by his placement in the Christian calendar that his name became associated with it. Later, the word valentine may have been confused with the Norman French word galantine, meaning lover of women, as the g and v were often interchangeable in common pronunciation. In any case, Feb. 14 gradually became a traditional date for exchanging love messages, and Saint Valentine became the patron saint of lovers.

January/February 2012

Page 5

The Bear Facts - News

Teachers shape their steps in the New Year by Kimmi Hanners Some students graduate from high school not having a clue what they want to do with the rest of their lives, but three teachers decided on a different plan. That plan was to show others inspiration and compassion while doing something they love. Rodney Rowland, the new chemistry and Algebra I teacher, Catalina Vizueth, the new Spanish teacher, and Josh Ward, returning algebra teacher and former coach, recently joined the Mena High School staff to excite students’ minds and help them enjoy what most struggle with; math, science, and linguistics. Ward said, “I’m very grateful to be a teacher. Being a teacher and having the students I have has blessed me. I’ve become a better person.” On the same note, Rowland said, “In terms of people that have taught me; you learn life skills. You learn how to be a better citizen, a better person. I’m more understanding and more patient from becoming a teacher.”

Asked about other occupations, Rowland spoke of working in a crime lab and teaching College Algebra, physical science, and Aviation Math and Physics at Rich Mountain Community College. Today, he is also an official for local basketball games around the Polk County area. Vizueth mentioned her love of chemistry but reveals to have mostly taught different levels of math. Vizueth said, “I used to be involved in chemical engineering but enjoy teaching most of all.” Ward revealed his ideas of maybe becoming an actor, President of the United States, or professional basketball player when deciding on an occupation out of high school. He did share privacy was something he would miss and took something to heart that his uncle had once told him. His uncle said, “Relax. Imagine every job paid the same, and you could choose from any job. The money shouldn’t drive your decision. Consider anything and everything.” All three teachers appreciate being welcomed into the Mena High School staff and want to encourage students as they embark on the long journey ahead.

STUDENTS WOWED THE crowd with their red outfits at the 3rd annual Go Red Fashion Show. (photo by Kaitlyn Schoeppey)

No Place Like Home

NEW TEACHER RODNEY Rowland reveals his past occupations with much enthusiasm. (photo by Emily O’Rear)

‘Il Primo’s Pizza receives five-star rating by Lake Ashley

Bob and Phyllis Wolfe have been making Chicago style pizza for many years. Bob started out 55 years ago when his godfather taught him all he knew about pizza in Chicago, and he has been making pizza ever since. Bob went to Arkadelphia in 1980 where he met Phyllis, but left for a short time after. Two years later, they met again in Mena. After dating for six months, Bob asked Phyllis to marry him. After getting married, they had a son whom they named Sidney. Sidney was born with physical health problems, so Bob and Phyllis needed to move around more than normal for treatment for their son. They finally chose to stay in Mena and had their business on Mena Street for ten years and were very successful. Bob taught Phyllis how to make pizza after she had done a few herself for an order. In 2007 they found their current

location in Acorn and decided to stay there. They have advertised more this year, and it has benefited them well. Bob and Phyllis hand make everything themselves, including their dough and sauce because everything they do at ‘Il Primo’s they try to do the old-fashioned way. According to Phyllis, the most important characteristics in their business are quality and fair price. ‘Il Primo’s Chicago style pizza is of the best quality in Mena. All of the food is homemade. The crust comes in thin, regular, and deep-dish, and the deep dish crust tastes the best. They have the fantastic kinds of hand-made pizza such as sausage, pepperoni, cheese, and their homemade Sid’s Veggie. There are also some cheese bread appetizers. The garlic-cheese toast is highly recommended. All in all, ‘Il Primo’s pizza is the best food pizza lovers will have for a long time, and it’s located in neighboring Acorn off Highway 71.

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Page 6

The Bear Facts - Sports

January/February 2012 MENA BEARCAT BASEBALL 2012

FAMILY, TEAMMATES, AND staff look on as senior Brenden Daniels signs with Arkansas Tech University. (photo by Hana Hunter)

FEBRUARY 27 MARCH 1-3 MARCH 5 MARCH 7 MARCH 9-10 MARCH 13 MARCH 22 MARCH 23 MARCH 26 MARCH 27 MARCH 30 APRIL 3 APRIL 6 APRIL 10 APRIL 12 APRIL 13 APRIL 16 APRIL 19 APRIL 20 APRIL 23 APRIL 27-28 & 30 MAY 4, 5, & 7 MAY 10, 11, 12 MAY 18-19


Ladycat softball coaches conduct tryouts by Hana Hunter

Many fans crowded around the Aubrey D. Tapley softball complex the day of tryouts, Sat. Jan. 14 for a long, drawn out set of exercises Coach Ray Hunter used to determine the 2012 Mena Ladycat softball team. Coach Tiffany Jewel assisted as well as Whitley Borin and Chelsea Garrison, two former Ladycat softball graduates, in the decision making process of selecting the upcoming season’s potential players. While each contender attempted her best at each exercise determining her abilities to run, throw, and bat, all four critics observed and ranked every player on each aspect using a grading scale of 1-5, ascending numbers being superior. After three hours, over 40 candidates were brought in to discuss the outcome of the tryouts. As 27 anxious players took on the roles of 2012 Mena Ladycat softball players, many walked away with nothing but hope for a position on the team next year. “I’m anxious for this season, and I’m impressed with the amount of talent we have this year,” Hunter stated.

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January/February 2012

The Bear Facts - Sports

Page 7

Bearcats and Ladycats persist throughout the basketball season by Hana Hunter

As the basketball season progresses, so do the Mena Bearcats and Ladycats. Dedicated fans and players maintain their spirit with the mighty cats as they travel further into the 2011-12 season. Participating in the First National Bank Classic, the Bearcats opposed both Prairie Grove and West Fork; Mena fell short to Prairie Grove, 55-53, and was defeated by West Fork, 6231. The Ladycats fell short to Green Co. Tech, 57-19, but defeated Mansfield, 44-36, Dec. 3. Subiaco hosted Mena Dec. 6 in a very competitive game that resulted in yet another loss for the Bearcats, with a final score of 54-41. Mena participated in the Magnet Cove Tournament Dec. 7, in which the Ladycats fell short to both Magnet Cove, with a final score of 40-25, and Dover, with a final score of 4133. The Bearcats defeated Bismarck, 44-34, although Magnet Cove defeated Mena 51-44. Mena traveled to Dover Dec. 16 with intentions of a victory, but the Bearcats were put to shame with a concluding score of 48-34. The Ladycats were also defeated, 41-33. In the Danville Tournament, the Bearcats defeated Wickes 49-31. The Bearcats fell short to both Danville and England though; Danville defeated Mena 57-49, and England was victorious, 66-47. The Ladycats fell short to Lincoln Dec. 21, 43-26. The Bearcats’ first game of the 2012 year against Clarksville resulted in a loss, with the final score recorded as 75-46. The Ladycats also fell short with a final score of 41-28. Pottsville hosted Mena Jan. 5 and defeated both the Bearcats and Ladycats. The Bearcats had a final score of 75- 48, and the Ladycats were also defeated, 52-34. Mena traveled to Booneville Jan. 10 in which the Bearcats pulled a victory, 61-55, although the Ladycats were defeated 42-32.

Dardanelle defeated both the Bearcats and Ladycats Jan. 13, leaving the Bearcats with a final score of 55-37, and the Ladycats with a final score of 45-27. The Waldron Bulldogs defeated the Bearcats Jan. 17, 61-59, after an extremely aggressive game leaving many fans and players upset. The Ladycats also fell short, 48-36. The Ladycats were defeated by Dover 39-26, although the Bearcats proved Dover wrong in their second convene Jan. 20, defeating the Pirates 49-37. The Bearcats hosted Subiaco Jan. 24, but fell short to the Trojans, 57-45. Mena traveled to Clarksville Jan. 27 although the Bearcats fell short to the Panthers, 79-41. Booneville traveled to Mena Jan. 31 for an intense game in which the Bearcats were victorious, with a final score of 54-51, although the Ladycats were defeated 44-34. “We’ve improved since the beginning of the season, but we have room to get better”, Susan Bissell explained. John Ballentine stated, “The Bearcats have a lot of talent, as we all know, but sometimes we have trouble showing it.” Both the Ladycats and Bearcats ready themselves for the District Tournament.

Bearcat baseball team swings into season As spring sports approach, both coaches and players ready for the upcoming baseball season. Having too many players sign up, coaches decided to hold team tryouts before any one player was granted their spot on the team. After a long 4-day set of tryouts, Coach Pete Rose, assisted by Coach Scott Bohlman, tackled the task of selecting the 2012 Mena Bearcat baseball team. Rose organized the tryouts into exercises determining each player’s ability to run, bat, and throw. Each player was then graded and critiqued on both their skills and dexterity. Anticipation grew for many as

coaches shaped the Mena Bearcat baseball roster, each player hoping to see their name. Bulletin boards were surrounded as Coach Rose enlightened Mena High with the 2012 baseball team roster. After four days of extensive tryouts and over 40 athletes each trying out for a specific position on the team, only 27 players walked away with the role of being a Mena Bearcat baseball player. The baseball team now practices every day after school, rain or shine. Players and coaches show anxiousness as the first game nears. “We have a lot of potential in our new team this year, and I’m excited for our first game,” senior and fourth-year returning player Landon Thacker states.

JUNIOR KYLE ROBERTS wins the tip-off against Booneville, Jan. 31. (photo by Hana Hunter)

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Page 8

The Bear Facts - Entertainment

January/February 2012

The Adventures of Tintin settles on just being fun by Taylor Betz

Taking Hergé’s adventure comic strip, commonly noted for its very clean drawings, and turning it into a motion-capture epic just doesn’t seem right. However knowing who is at the helm of this project takes away all the blues: Steven Spielberg. If anyone could rightfully adapt the subtle work of Hergé and making it accessible to a less subtle medium it’s The Beard. It’d be an obvious move for him to emulate himself in his Indiana Jones era with a pinch of film noir added for flavor. The plot is reminiscent of those movies, seeing a young noble man, here in the form of reporter Tintin, being assisted by quirky friends (his loyal dog Snowy and the recovering alcoholic Captain Haddock) on the search for a great treasure. Tintin is animated, using motion capture technology as its basis. Motion capture is when a real actor wears a motion-tracking suit, along with motion-tracking “dots” on their face. They are subsequently filmed acting out their scenes in character, while in post production the character itself will be textured over the actor though it’ll retain their exact performance. This leads to a potential problem commonly referred to as the “uncanny valley”, in which such a particular type of animation is neither overly cartoony nor is it engagingly realistic thus making the overall effect eerie. Going into Tintin, excited knowing Peter Jackson (the Lord of the Rings trilogy) was producing a Spielberg pic that was co-written by Edgar Wright (Shaun of the Dead, Scott Pilgrim vs. the World) had me nearly drooling at the awesome wonder this could be. That said, the potential of this ending up in the uncanny valley was my primary concern and thankfully Tintin did not do such. The characters have enough detail and are well animated enough to be much more visually interesting then most animations

Book Review

CHERUB saves James’s life by Kaitlyn Schoeppey

Perhaps saves is a bit of an exaggeration, but James’s life was going downhill fast before CHERUB got involved in Robert Muchamore’s novel, The Recruit. Basically, James grew up living with his mom and half-sister until his mother dies, orphaning him. His sister, Lauren, goes to live with her deadbeat father, and James ends up in a shelter. Luckily for James, he gets the opportunity of a lifetime when he is recommended to work for an undercover teenage spy organization known as CHERUB. CHERUB agents are between the ages of 12 and 17, and they are successful at catching criminals because no one would expect a teenager to be a spy.

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Robert Muchamore brings this spy series to life by writing a book that’s impossible to put down. The dynamic characters are unique while still managing to be believable. The missions are interesting, and unlike another major teenage spy series, Alex Rider, realistic. The main downside is that the word choice detracts from the book; some of the language should have been cleaner. Some students may avoid The Recruit on the shelf because of the high page count, but the pages fly by as fast as Twilight and Harry Potter. This is actually a great book for getting a significant amount of pages read easily. Overall score: 9 out of 10. This series definitely deserves a try. 11.0 points 342 pages

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but retain comic-book like facial structure so they don’t have to be compared to humans. On top of the fact that the characters are not just plain creepy looking, the entire ensemble delivers excellent performances (in particular mo-cap legend Andy Serkis as Haddock), which is a bonus! While praising the visual layer to the film, there is something lost here. Sure, the performances are solid and Spielberg directs some of his most fun action scenes in years but the constant on the move pace of Tintin takes away moments to see more heartfelt interaction between the characters. Preferring to use metaphors, this movie is like a lavish cake that is coated in the sweetest, most enticing icing known to man. But in the middle of spending the time decorating this cake with various pretties (John William’s nostalgia-ridden score, Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s hiliarious chemistry, etc.) someone seems to have forgotten to make sure that the mix has a taste. It’s certainly not bad; it just isn’t up to snuff to everything else that is occurring here. Sure Tintin is one of the most entertaining movies of recent but at the end of it there really isn’t anything meaningful to linger onto.

Who will get that golden man? by Taylor Betz

The 84 th Academy Awards will be presented on Feb. 26, 2012, and this year’s Oscars have left many confused. The Academy ditched their recently instated 10 Best-Picture-nominees rule to allow the number to be flexible depending on how many worthy films were produced in the year. It came down to 9 nominations, a variety including Martin Scorsese’s 3D epic Hugo and the baseball lingo loaded Moneyball; however, there was a lot of snubbing this year. Acclaimed affair like Drive, Tinker Tailor Solider Spy and The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo were denied a shot at Best Picture (though the latter two got silver medals in the form of Best Actor & Actress nominations). It all seems a bit silly when one of the contenders, Extremely Loud

and Incredibly Close, sits at a 46% rating on critic review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes as opposed to the aforementioned films’ 93%, 84% and 87% rating respectively. Michael Fassbender, who played a sex addict in the gritty Shame, was shut-out for Best Actor, presumably due to his lack of name (the other nominations were the likes of Brad Pitt, George Clooney or Gary Oldman). The controversy about whether or not an actor could see a nomination for a motion capture performance ended when Andy Serkis failed to get recognized for his harrowing portrayal of Caesar, the chimpanzee who leads a revolt in Rise of the Planet of the Apes. Despite adding additional Best Picture noms in order to secure nods for more obscure work, one can’t help but feel that they haven’t branched out of their shell.


Check us out on the web! This issue will be posed on lindseymolly/docs/janfeb12 after February 24, 2012.


Mena High School Bear Facts for January/February, 2012, a student publication


Mena High School Bear Facts for January/February, 2012, a student publication